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I’m a Professional Marathoner — But This Kind of Training Is Even More Difficult

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I’m a professional marathon runner, but I also need nourishment for my soul.

As a mom of five, I often tell people that the hardest marathon I’ve ever run is the one I do every day as a mother. I stand behind that — even after my proud accomplishment of finishing a marathon in two hours and 32 minutes when every step to the finish was a fight.

But all this effort also has made me question myself.

 Do I put in the same amount of energy and effort into my spiritual health? What am I doing to become a better person? I’ve spent 11 years working on my patience, and it’s still a struggle. Every. Single. Day.

Wherever I turn, I’m bombarded with guides to physical health. There are ads for 30-day fitness challenges, 10K training plans, an online workout series called “Get your Beach Body now.” Search “Couch to 5K” and you’ll get over 20 apps.

Yet when it comes to personal growth, character development, spiritual improvement — practically nothing.

Why can’t I download a three-month “Patience Training Plan” the same way I can sign up for a half-marathon? Where’s the “Become a Better Jew” app?

The truth is, spiritual change is a lot harder than physical change. And the results are never as immediate or dramatically apparent.

I’ve found there are three keys to success when it comes to making any change in life: setting clear, attainable goals, mapping out a step-by-step process for getting there, and holding yourself accountable through a mentor or friend. The journey to spiritual health may not be as simple or straightforward as the path to fitness, but if you apply these same principles you will be able to make real concrete changes in your life. 

One platform that provides a framework for that spiritual growth is the one-on-one personalized learning program Partners in Torah, which matches people interested in studying Jewish topics with study partners who can serve as teachers. You get to choose your area of interest — Jewish customs, holidays, philosophy, mindfulness, or anything else you’d like to learn. The pairs study remotely — using FaceTime, Skype, Google Meet, phone, etc.  

While there are no shortcuts to growth, and no apps that can do the work for you, getting matched with someone who can help you on your journey can make a huge difference. Connecting weekly to learn something new is a total game-changer. It anchors you and provides structure.

I know that I never would have become the runner I am today without my coach, and working on my growth as a person is that much harder.

At the end of the day, I know it’s up to me. We all make our own choices. If we want to improve ourselves, we have to push ourselves — on the track, and in our own personal growth. 

But having a partner on the journey can help. If you’re interested in trying it, visit Partners in Torah and fill out a brief questionnaire. Maybe it’ll be the beginning of a journey of a lifetime.

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